English National Opera (ENO) has revealed that its 2022-23 season will be formed of seven new productions along with revivals of two audience favourites.
The season kicks off in September with a new version of a hugely popular classic: Puccini’s Tosca (1900). In Christof Loy’s classic production Tosca fights for her freedom against a grand backdrop of real life locations such as the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle and the Castel Sant’Angelo.
With her artist beau Cavaradossi competing for her affections against the sadistic police chief Scarpia, Tosca’s story becomes intertwined with the tumultuous political landscape of Rome itself. The eponymous opera singer becomes increasingly desperate to stop Scarpia’s plans and must resort to deadly means to wrest back her freedom from those who would suppress it.
In Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard (1888), the arrival of a troupe of performers at the Tower of London sparks forbidden romances and fantastical plots in a tangled web of melancholy and mirth.
English tenor Anthony Gregory sings the role of the unjustly imprisoned Colonel Fairfax, who is in love with Phoebe, daughter of the righteous Sergeant Meryll, one of the titular Beefeaters. Phoebe wants Fairfax be released so they can marry; she enlists the help of Jack Point, a roving performer, who falls for her himself.
British mezzo-soprano Heather Lowe is Phoebe, with Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies as her father. Jo Davies returns to the London Coliseum to direct this new production, while G&S veteran Chris Hopkins conducts the ENO Orchestra.
The final opera of the 2022 season is a Christmas favourite. Based on Frank Capra’s film of the same name, It’s a Wonderful Life (2016), by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, transports the audience to Bedford Falls, where down-on-his-luck banker George Bailey hits a crisis point and finds himself in need of a Christmas miracle.
American tenor Frederick Ballentine sings the role of George Bailey, with Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese as Clara, his guardian angel. Aletta Collins makes her ENO debut directing and choreographing this new production, with regular Heggie collaborator Nicole Paiement conducting the ENO Chorus and Orchestra.
Heading into the 2023 season, February sees Jamie Manton return to direct a revival of Calixto Bieito’s popular production of Bizet’s Carmen (1875). This version moves the action to 1970s Spain, at the tail-end of Franco’s regime.
Italian-American mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson plays the title role alongside American tenor Sean Panikkar, who returns to the role of Don José. Also returning are Panamanian-American baritone Nmon Ford (Escamillo), English soprano Sophie Bevan (Micaela) and British bass-baritone Keel Watson (Zuniga).
Witness the start of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle saga as Olivier Award-winning director Richard Jones returns to ENO to direct a new version of The Rhinegold (1876). When the forging of a prophesied ring of the Rhine proves problematic, the realms of gods and men are all the more chaotic for it.
ENO music director Martyn Brabbins conducts the ENO Orchestra. Wotan, played by Canadian bass-baritone John Relyea, is accompanied by American tenor Frederick Ballentine (Loge), former Harewood Artist mezzo-soprano Madeleine Shaw (Fricka), British mezzo-soprano Christine Rice (Erda), British baritone Leigh Melrose (Alberich) and American bass James Cresswell (Fafner).
Phelim McDermott’s Olivier Award-winning sell-out production of Glass’s Akhnaten (1983) also returns.
This mesmerising work draws on ancient hymns, prayers and inscriptions sung in their original Egyptian, Hebrew and Akkadian to tell the story of one of the world’s most influential figures – the Pharaoh Akhnaten, the first pharaoh to switch from worshipping a pantheon of gods to just one, the Sun.
Award-winning American countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo returns to the title role, alongside American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E Williams as Nefertiti and South Korean soprano Haegee Lee as Queen Tye. Also returning are Keel Watson as Aye and American bass Zachary James as the Scribe.
Annilese Miskimmon follows her ENO directorial debut with The Handmaid’s Tale (Ruders, 2000) with a new production of The Dead City (Die tote Stadt, 1920), Korngold’s cult classic opera about grief and obsession.
The recently bereaved Paul is haunted by visions of his deceased wife Marie. But when he meets the all-too-familiar Marietta, the lines between past and present blur, and reality itself is called into question.
Swiss tenor Rolf Romei sings the role of Paul, alongside British soprano Allison Oakes in the dual roles of the deceased Marie and her doppelgänger Marietta, and English mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly as the housekeeper Brigitta. Kirill Karabits conducts.
The UK debut from Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori, Blue (2019) follows an African-American family as a father’s job as a policeman clashes with his son’s activism.
South African tenor Zwakele Tshabalala plays the Son, alongside British soprano and former ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin as Mother and American bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as Father, marking his ENO debut. Former ENO Mackerras Fellow Matthew Kofi Waldren conducts.
A meaningful meditation on motherhood and loss, Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs broke records on its release in 1992. Isabelle Bywater directs this unprecedented staged production of Górecki’s work. Russian-American conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya makes her ENO debut to conduct the ENO Orchestra.
For those who prefer a more inclusive environment, ENO is hosting relaxed performances of three of these operas: The Yeomen of the Guard on 12 November, It’s a Wonderful Life on 7 December and Akhnaten on 4 April 2023.
These performances are for everyone, and they may particularly benefit those who might normally find it challenging to access theatre. More information is available on ENO’s website.
The season runs from 30 September 2022 to 6 May 2023. Tickets are on sale now; full date, time and price information is available from ENO.
A new production of Pucinni’s Tosca kicks off English National Opera’s 2022-23 season.